ROCKVILLE, Md. (WDVM) — Montgomery County’s largest teachers union issued a vote of “no confidence” in Montgomery County Public Schools leadership and their response to challenges brought on by the pandemic.

The resolution from the Montgomery County Education Association, obtained by WDVM 25, claims, “MCPS has failed to provide clear metrics and criteria to guide decisions, negligence of which has
resulted in a series of negative consequences.”

“MCPS leadership has consistently shown a dereliction of duty and a lack of competence,” the resolution continues.

Staff, students, and families are feeling the pressure as MCPS struggles with confusion surrounding COVID-related closures. While staffing shortages continue to put a strain on operations. Now, there have been conversations among leadership surrounding what to do about all of this but still, there are more questions than answers.

Members of the teachers union expressed their frustration during the public comment section of Thursday’s Board of Education meeting.

“MCPS’ rushed policies, unjust wages, and worsening working conditions will not deter or stymie us in our mission to do right by our students,” said Kember Kane, who identified herself as a member of the union and an MCPS educator.

Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight acknowledged last week’s sudden shift in virtual learning policy during a live panel discussion Wednesday night.

“We initially established a 5 percent threshold for considering transitions to virtual learning,” said McKnight. “The state later clarified that the thresholds should not automatically consider a suspension to in-person learning.”

McKnight didn’t outline any specific metrics or criteria that may cause a school to shift to virtual learning going forward, only saying those decisions would be made on a case-by-case basis in concert with the county’s Department of Health and Human Services. MCPS moved 11 schools to virtual learning before changing its policy.

Some bus routes are still unable to run over a week after MCPS first noted a shortage of drivers. County leaders say they are exploring all avenues to get drivers back behind the wheel. The county executive’s office helped MCPS file a request with the state for emergency help with the shortage, including the potential for help from the National Guard.

“We’re reaching out to our retired bus drivers who still have CDLs that are often still active, also reaching out to our military, not just National Guard, but our veterans who also have CDLs,” said Montgomery County Councilmember Craig Rice in a briefing Wednesday.

As of this week, MCPS leaders say the school system was still looking to fill several dozen bus driver positions.